American Physicians Service Group. (AMPH)

Q1 2010 Earnings Call

May 4, 2010 09:00 a.m. ET


Ken Shifrin - Chairman and CEO

Tim LaFrey - President and COO

Marc Zimmermann - CFO


Mike Grasher - Piper Jaffray

Michael Nannizzi - Oppenheimer & Co.

Paul Newsome - Sandler O'Neill & Partners L.P.



Good morning and welcome to the First Quarter 2010 American Physicians Service Group Earnings Conference Call. My name is Andréa [ph] and I’ll be your coordinator today. This call is being webcast in listen-only format through AMPH’s corporate website at and you can listen to a replay of this of this call which will also be available through the website.

I like to reminder to you that during this call members of AMPH’s management may make forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. For example, statements regarding potential developments in the industries in which the Company operates, it's ability to expand in existing markets and enter into new markets, or grow through acquisitions and to achieve positive operating results are all forward-looking statements.

For a detail discussion of the risk and uncertainties that could cause the Company’s actual results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, please refer to the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Now I'd like turn to the call over to Ken Shifrin, Chairman and CEO of AMPH.

Ken Shifrin

Thank you and welcome everyone. Also joining me today are Tim LaFrey, our President and Marc Zimmermann, our Chief Financial Officer. Our insurance operations performed very well during this quarter. We continued to make meaningful strides in adding new policyholders while enjoying excellent retention of our existing business. We also continued to moderate pricing declines with an overall 2% rate reduction on renewing business, which amounted to the lowest quarterly rate decrease since this started the soft market in 2005.

We remain in very strong capital position and so during the quarter we redeemed approximately $1 million of our preferred shares and paid the annual 3% dividend on those shares several months earlier than scheduled.

Our book value per share continued its upward trend growing by 3% during the quarter, while our trailing 12 month return on equity was 15%.

I will now turn to Marc Zimmermann our, CFO to highlight our operating performance.

Marc Zimmermann

Thanks Ken. Revenues for the quarter were 20 million compared to 19.2 million in the same period last year. Net earnings for the quarter were 4.5 million or $0.65 per diluted share compared to 4.7 million or $0.67 per diluted share in the same period last year.

In our insurance services segment gross written premiums were 18.6 million or an increase of approximately 6% as compared to 17.5 millions for the same period in 2009.

These results were driven by excellent policyholder retention of approximately 90% and our ability to continue to grow new business in each of our markets.

During the quarter we produced new business of approximately 2.7 million. We were approximately 1.2 million of our new business in Oklahoma and Arkansas resulting in a 157 new policy holders. Overall we grew our policyholder count to 6,695 at the end of the quarter, an increase of 5% since the end of year and 8% since the first quarter of last year.

Financial services revenues were 1.4 millions for the quarter approximately the same as the first quarter of last year. Financial services expenses were 1.7 million for the quarter compared to 1.6 million in the first quarter of 2009. While we've been able to improve the overall performance of our financial services business in prior quarters, we continue to see depressed trading activity in this segment. However, the ongoing core cost reduction measures we've implemented have significantly offset this revenue decline.

It should be noted that trading activity increased significantly in April due in part to new commission based sales tiers allowing us to record one of our best revenue months since the beginning of 2008.

Net investment income totaled 2.5 million for the quarter as compared to 2.6 million in the comparable quarter last year. The proceeds from the sale of approximately 17.2 million of non-agency CMOs in 2009 and additional cash generated from operations have been reinvested in high quality investment grade fixed income securities with short maturity dates and lower yields.

The short-term maturities continue to focus on preservation of principal over yield due to the current market uncertainties and we've increased our cash position from 18.3 million at December 31st, 2009 to over 19.3 million at March 31st, 2010. This rebalancing of our fixed income portfolio resulted in a corresponding decrease in investment income even though our investment portfolio continues to grow.

Claims frequency continues to remain favorable as our total number of pending claims at March 31st, 2010 was 537, down 6% for the quarter from 572 claims at the end of 2009, and down by 8% from the 583 claims at March 31st, 2009.

We experienced favorable development of approximately 4.7 million during the quarter of which 4.3 million was in our retained layer and 4,000 was in our reinsurance layer. This compares to favorable development of approximately 5.7 million during the first quarter of 2009, of which approximately 4.9 million was in our retain layer, and 800,000 was in our reinsurance layer. Even following these adjustments and with continued historically low reported claims for the quarter of 84, our average net result for open claim remains very strong at approximately 153,000 at the end of the quarter, up significantly from a 140,000 at year end.

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